Please Don't Zoom Me!
The COVID-19 quarantine era will be remembered for a handful of interesting themes. After bat soup and face masks in bank lobbies, the meteoric rise of Zoom as the video conferencing app of choice will be long remembered for “Zoom Bombing” and as a gateway for much more problematic malicious attacks. While the software might be good enough for some home users, it is completely unacceptable for institutions and enterprise use.
In just the last few weeks, Zoom has been found to have multiple zero day exploits allowing root access, an ID numbering scheme that can be easily brute forced with a repurposed “War Dialing” attack and a whole host of other unpatched exploits. While some of these things have been patched in recent updates, the fallout has been terrible with private videos leaked to TikTok and critical data shared across the internet. Respected infosec personality, Arvind Narayanan, has been so blunt as to say “Let’s make this simple: zoom is malware.”
While there has been a campaign of damnation against the popular video conferencing platform, Zoom and its problems are only a small part of a bigger issue. No business should be using a patchwork of apps for their needs. The massive uptick of employees and students working from home has just shined a light on the problem! Dropbox for file sharing, Zoom for conferencing, Slack for collaboration, and G-Suite for word processing and spreadsheets… And all of that on top of chains of emails between colleagues! The hodgepodge approach to business workflow software is confusing for users, and it is simultaneously a productivity, security and compliance nightmare. Each platform has its own update schedule as well as the potential for each piece of the puzzle having its own exploits that compound on each other, and most businesses don’t have licensing, know-how, or the IT and security staff to centrally manage user systems.
So What Can Be Done?
As a Tier 1 Microsoft CSP, we recommend taking a giant step away from the mosaic of apps out in the wild to consolidate everything into the only secure, enterprise-ready eco-system that can handle all document processing, cloud storage, team collaboration, group calling, and global security compliance management inside of one platform. Microsoft Office 365 and the accompanying tools are often a less costly platform for businesses as well. Currently, the E1 Office365 Suite is being offered for free for six months including the extremely versatile “Teams” platform, which is why we are strongly recommending the Microsoft suite of services right now.
What is Teams?
In short, Teams is like Zoom, except that it has enterprise quality security and integrations with the most universal productivity apps in the world. On top of ISO 27001, HIPPA and SOC 2 security compliance, Teams adds in a user-friendly shared workspace for remote workers to communicate and make creative decisions together!
This Includes world class implementations of the following:
- Threaded Chat: While parts of a conversation can stay in the main thread, specific topics can be threaded.
- Channels: The most common topics or company verticals can be turned into collaborative channels. Both threads, channels and all chat functions give users the ability to delegate with the “@” command.
- Collaborative Documents: Using Sharepoint, documents can be created in Word, Excel or other applications and shared into Teams where other users can leave notes or collaborate on changes.
- Video Conferencing: One of the most valuable ways to collaborate is via group video conferencing with screen share for thousands of users and integrated chat, note-taking and photo/file display for desktop and mobile users.
With calendar integration, appointments and global integration, Teams is more like a combination of Slack, Zoom, Hangouts and GoToMeeting with the added benefit of never having to leave the overall Office 365 Teams ecosystem. In fact, a decentralized workforce could manage a large portion of their entire collaborative workflow without ever leaving the Teams environment at all. It is truly the backbone of the Office365 Suite, and it is the closest thing to working in a “real” office for those who work exclusively from remote locations.
Another feature of Microsoft Teams is its use as a presentation tool. Rather than having a meeting with open participation and equal privileges for all users, a Teams Event can have presenters, producers and attendees. This allows for multiple presenters to be able to work remotely or together in one space with the guidance of a producer who has control over active cameras or a presentation display working with PowerPoint or Stream.
The attendees can be managed at an organizational level for something like an internal conference, or they can be sorted out by paying members for a virtual trade show. For a more general audience or for doing an open webinar or a public Q&A session, the link can be tailored for anyone to be able to join with a limit of 10,000 participants.
Oh! And for everyone who still thinks Zoom is just more “fun,” Teams even added background effects for video calls this week on top of being free until January 2021.
Microsoft's Suite of Tools Also Comes With Several Bonuses!
While there are plenty of reasons to criticize the “a la carte” approach to business productivity applications, there is a lot more to cover if we focus on the benefits of the Microsoft suite of tools and their benefits. One such tool is the world class end point security platform: Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (MDATP). A giant step up from traditional antivirus software, MDATP brings in a central threat and vulnerability management system to quickly discover, prioritize, and remediate attack vectors and misconfigurations. This allows company security protocols to be enforced on all machines in the field while integrating directly with Microsoft to automate all processes.
Combined with Azure Sentinel, a world class SIEM tool, any company can upgrade its threat detection and response tools with cloud-deployed artificial intelligence; eliminating the need for security infrastructure setup and maintenance. This allows rapid scaling while reducing costs. Azure Sentinel aggregates data from all sources, including users, applications, servers, and devices running on-premises or in any cloud, so that IT and security staff can process millions of records in a few seconds.
All of these tools integrate with Office 365, and prices start in the $5.00 range per month. In the pursuit of the most valuable office productivity suite, right now Microsoft is truly without a peer, and we ask you to Contact Us to get started.
At GoVanguard, we recommend a systematic approach to information security. Carefully and simply implemented security protocols can minimize the risk of exposure to data breaches and the penalties the proceed them. In order to successfully navigate data security protocols during this period of global pandemic, compliance protocols must be in place. That is why we have a rigorous cybersecurity risk assessment and program implementation regimen in place!
Reach out to us today and see how easy it is to take control of your security and keep your data secure.